Responding to Pope Francis’ appeal this September, Vatican parishes have begun welcoming refugee families.
In his Sept. 6 Angelus address, the Holy Father called on all European parishes and religious communities to take in one refugee family, as the United Nation recognizes the record number of people trying to enter Europe, mostly from Syria, Eritrea, and Afghanistan.
“Every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe, take in one family,” Francis requested, after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
As we witness the “tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees who flee death in conflict and hunger and are on a journey of hope,” the Pope said, “the Gospel calls us to be close to the smallest and to those who have been abandoned.”
Calling on all Europe’s bishops to support his appeal, the Pontiff had reminded the faithful of the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy, noting that offering shelter to the needy is a “concrete act in preparation” for the Holy Year.
In collaboration with the Apostolic Almoner Archbishop Konrad Krajewski and the Sant’Egidio Community, the two Vatican parishes, St. Anna and St. Peter, immediately took steps to respond to this invitation.
In the Borgo area, the St. Anna parish community hosts a Syrian family composed of a couple with two children.
Similarly, the parish of St. Peter’s Basilica, in a large apartment situated in the area of Via Gregorio VII, hosts an Eritrean family composed of a mother and five children, three of whom are already with her in the apartment.
While her other two children are still in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, the Community di Sant’Egidio is working to reunite the family by the end of the month or within a few weeks.
The youngest child, just a few months old, was born in Norway where the family had arrived, and from where they were sent back to Italy, in accordance with the Dublin Convention. With a young friend and her young son, the family shares the apartment.
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